Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. Mark 10:43
Actress Nichelle Nichols is best remembered for playing Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek series. Landing the role was a personal win for Nichols, making her one of the first African American women on a major TV show. But a greater win was to come of it.
Nichols had actually resigned from Star Trek after its first season, to return to her theater work. But then she met Martin Luther King Jr., who urged her not to leave. For the first time, he said, African Americans were being seen on TV as intelligent people who could do anything, even go to space. By playing Lieutenant Uhura, Nichols was achieving a greater win—showing Black women and children what they could become.
It reminds me of the time James and John asked Jesus for the two best positions in His kingdom (Mark 10:37). What personal wins such positions would be! Jesus not only explained the painful realities of their request (vv. 38–40) but called them to higher goals, saying, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (v. 43). His followers weren’t to seek personal wins alone but, like Him, use their positions to serve others (v. 45).
Nichelle Nichols stayed with Star Trek for the greater win it provided for African Americans. May we too never be content with a personal win alone but use whatever position we gain to serve others in His name.
What are your current personal and career goals? What doors could you open for others right now?
Dear Jesus, show me how to use my position to serve others in Your name.
James and John’s request to sit at Jesus’ right hand and left hand after He’s glorified (Mark 10:37) shows they didn’t yet understand that Christ’s path to glory would be through suffering. Jesus responded by referring to His coming “cup” and “baptism” (v. 38)—both metaphors referring to His future suffering for His people. He would drink the cup of suffering and identify fully with His people to save them—taking on the consequences of sin for their sake. In response to James and John’s request for honor, they’re instead promised that as Christ’s disciples, they’d suffer like Him (v. 39). And Jesus used this occasion to teach all His disciples about offering themselves in service (vv. 42-45).